Photo: Susan MullaneAna Konjuh (CRO)
Ana Konjuh has been nominated by Croatia to compete in the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Europe/Africa Zone Group I event in February. This caps a wonderful few months for the 15-year-old who won the Eddie Herr International followed by the Orange Bowl Championships - the final Grade 1 and Grade A events of 2012. The events were held back-to-back, meaning that she finished 2012 on a 12-match unbeaten run.
Should she be selected, Konjuh, who became the youngest Orange Bowl champion since 2007, could have the opportunity to play in the same group as world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska.
Konjuh is currently ranked No. 3 on the Juniors circuit, but is yet to play a match this year, opting not to participate in the first Grade A event of the year in Mexico or the first Grade 1 event which was held in Costa Rica.
“I played a lot of matches. I got tired a bit,” she said after her Orange Bowl victory. “Now I’m just going to go home, spend time with my family, practice and prepare for (the) Australian Open.”
Konjuh is not the only youngster to be included in Croatia’s team. Donna Vekic, who played in the first three Junior Grand Slams of 2012 before turning pro in time for the US Open, has also been nominated. The 16-year-old played Fed Cup last year, winning one of her matches, as well as competing in the qualifying draw at the US Open, where she lost in the final round.
Croatia is not the only nation ready to give their young players a chance in Fed Cup. So far, in the Zone Group I events eight players ranked in the Top 250 of the Juniors rankings have been nominated.
Other notable junior players to be nominated for Fed Cup include world No. 16 Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA), world No. 45 Ipek Soylu (TUR), world No. 62 Ferny Angeles Paz (PER) and world No. 72 Valeria Patiuk (ISR).